Progressivism from the Grassroots to the Whitehouse
American society. Emerging at the end of the nineteenth century, it established much of the tone of American politics throughout the first half of the century” (Harrier, 1999).
The United States was experiencing a period of urban growth, economic distress, labor unrest, unemployment, low wages, unfair labor practices, and deplorable living conditions. Large numbers of international immigrants arrived daily to work in this newly established industrialized society, while escaping the harsh realities of their native countries.As the shift from agriculture to mind gusty/manufacturing droves of people relocated from rural to urban northern communities. As in most societies, the focus had moved to commerce versus the needs of the people. In the midst of a religious awakening after visiting the settlement house in London, England, Jane Addams noted how this new movement was impacting London and challenged social Darwinism theory of survival of the fitness. Families were bettered because of the social work being done. She and a fellow seminary student, Lillian Wald started the Hull House in the Chicago ghetto.
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This mansion became the center of life for thousands of immigrants, munching the settlement house movement in the United States. The houses confronted the social problems by reforming individuals and society. Efficiency and expertise became the watchwords of the progressive vocabulary. Children’s services were provided, namely nurseries, kindergarten and aftershock programs, mothers were taught simple skills and working women later formed trade unions for laborers. Training programs were developed to ensure that welfare and charity work would be undertaken by trained professionals.Child labor laws were enacted giving hillier the opportunity t to go to school, organized labor unions were formed supporting goals of eight-hour work days, improved safety and health conditions, workers’ compensation laws and minimum wages for women. The movement picked up momentum and was joined by church leaders seeking social purity by pushing prohibition.
Progressivism became prominent at every level of government, giving voters direct voice in legislative and judicial matters with initiatives, referendum and recall. Some of the notable politicians who subscribed to the progressivism philosophy were: MayorThomas Loft Johnson from Cleveland, Ohio who fought for fair taxation. Hiram Johnson, California Governor (191 1-1917) and U. S. Senator (1917-1945), promised to return the government to the people free of corruption and corporate influence. The focus became to give honest public service. From 1 901 to 1 909, President Theodore Roosevelt steered away from the persistent passivity of his predecessors and promised the American people a Square Deal, emphasizing that the average citizen would get a fair share under his policies.
He demonstrated his willingness to challenge large reparations (trusts) by using the power of the government to control businesses. He championed the railroad reform giving power to the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), the establishment of the Pure Food and Drug Act (banning impure or falsely labeled food and drugs from being made, sole and shipped) and the Meat Inspection Act (banning misleading labels and preservatives that contained harmful chemicals).One of his most lasting legacies was his significant role in the creation of 1 50 National Forests, five national parks, and 18 national monuments, among other works of inspiration. In total, Roosevelt was instrumental in the conservation of approximately 230 million acres (930,000 km) of American soil among various parks and other federal projects (l. E. Cadenced, 1974). Initially the Progressive movement sought to improve the lives of white middle class citizens, it than expanded to include women and lower classes.
Many of the core principles of the Progressive Movement focused on the need for efficiency in all areas of society. Purification to eliminate waste and corruption was a powerful element” (Descants, 2000). Jane Addams once aid, “Unless our conception of patriotism is progressive, it cannot hope to embody the real affection and the real interest of the nation” (Jane Addams). Now the movement encompasses persons whose civil rights are challenged, such as the minorities, such as: GLUT (Gay rights), immigrants, and Socialists.